Tag Archives: traditions

Winter is Coming

30 Nov

So, I began drafting this post a few days ago.  At that time, my “winter is coming” reference* was totally appropriate.  However, it appears that winter has now arrived.  This Washington Post article from yesterday details the snow storm that has left our city covered in snow and ice.  In one day, we had over half the snowfall of a typical November!

Needless to day, my puffy jacket and snow boots are back in the game.

Before all of this craziness began, we celebrated American Thanksgiving last week with some friends.  We have gone for fairly non-traditional meals the past two years.  Last year we went to a North Korean restaurant and this year we went to a Georgian restaurant.  If I’m not having stuffing and gravy, I might as well be having khachapuri.

Signs of the upcoming holiday season are all over now, too.  New Year’s trees and decorations are everywhere, which is always an amusing mix of Russian and western-influenced details.  We don’t have too many decorations with us, but the few that are here are up now, too.  I am extra excited about the holidays this year since we will get to spend them with two of my favorite people: my sister and brother-in-law!

X-mas Sock Monkey

до свидания!

* As some of you may have gathered from the subject, Ben and I have been watching “Game of Thrones” and we just finished watching the second season last weekend.  SO. GOOD.  I sure hope that our version of winter does not include any White Walkers!

Another Day in Moscow

26 Feb

Yesterday, we took a field trip to the Russian State Library (Российская государственная библиотека).  Our attempts to see the Library without dealing with administrative hassles were thwarted, but we managed to register for five year memberships with surprisingly little trouble.  What we saw of the Library was amazing – aisles and aisles of card catalogs mixed with electronic catalog stations, scholarly reading rooms, collections of art, and, of course, lots of marble. 

The Russian State Library's Main Building

Here, books are requested and sent to designated reading rooms for users to access, not browsed/self-collected and checked out.  With over 43 million items in the collection, including some in English, I hope that Ben and I both have the opportunity to use the resources available during our stay here.  If nothing else, it will be an amazing place to go if we need to get away from our usual workspaces.

Since we were near the center of the city, we decided to walk to a park that was about 2 km away.  This walk included a “Wow, we live in Russia” moment when we quickly popped into the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour simply because we were walking past and, well, why not?

"War" Vice Statue

Our destination was Bolotnaya Square to see the sculpture garden entitled Children are the Victims of Adults’ Vices.  It is pretty much as crazy as it sounds with sculptures depicting the following vices: advocating violence, alcoholism, drug addiction, exploitation of child labor, for those without memory, ignorance, indifference, poverty, prostitution, pseudoscience, sadism, theft, and war.

Also in the park, there was a very small Maslenitsa festival happening with blini carts, pony and horse rides, and folks dressed in traditional outfits singing and dancing.  This is a week long celebration that will conclude today with the burning of Lady Maslenitsa, a straw effigy that looks like a babuska.

Newlyweds' Locks on Luzhkov Bridge

Next to the park is Luzhkov Bridge, which contains metal “trees” on which newlyweds affix padlocks before throwing the keys into the river below.  Once filled, the trees are moved to the path next to the river where they remain while the locks rust with age.  It seems like an amazing tradition and we were able to see at least four couples celebrating with family and friends.  Shouts of “горькa!” (pronounced gorka, meaning bitter) could be heard to encourage the couples to kiss to make it sweeter – a tradition that we learned at our friends’ wedding last October.

It was an amazing day of appreciating and enjoying the city.  The gallery below has some more photos from the day.

до свидания!

Here Come the Holidays

22 Nov

We are entering what is, hands down, my favorite time of the year.

In the past, I would have celebrated Thanksgiving with loved ones and then taken my x-mas tree out of the closet and spent Friday decorating it. I would have searched the Internet, malls, and various shops for the perfect gifts to wrap and place under the tree or mail out across the country. Pumpkin Spice Lattes would be consumed with a dear friend while wearing scarves and hand-warmers in the brisk Southern California winter.

This year is different, though. 

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